New Patterns and Kits: Pieced Primrose, Geese in the Garden, Blooming Wallflowers, LatticeWork

Just a quick note to say that the print versions of my 4 new patterns have now arrived from the printer – whoo hoo! Although they were made to feature my new Abstract Garden fabric line, they are versatile to use any fabrics you like! You can pull similar colors, or mix it up for your own unique take! I’m also offering kits for each, while supplies last.

Abstract Garden Quilt Patterns

To give you a quick overview of the quality and layout of the print versions, I made this short one-minute (silent) YouTube video of me thumbing through the pages. They are printed on high quality semi-gloss paper with a firm cover so they’ll hold up while you use them! Click the image below to watch.

And now, to end this post with some colorful “eye candy” here are images of the finished quilts themselves. Coming up soon, I’ll be blogging more about the making of each quilt with some bonus tutorials and tips. And don’t forget, I’ll be hosting a quilt along to make Blooming Wallflowers in January, so be on the lookout for the QAL schedule, coming soon!

Pieced Primrose Quilts

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

Pieced Primrose Quilts Made from Abstract Garden

Geese in the Garden Quilts

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

Geese in the Garden with Abstract Garden fabric

Blooming Wallflowers Quilt

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

Blooming Wallflowers quilt

LatticeWork Quilt

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

LatticeWork Quilt Made from Abstract Garden

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Starts Sept 10 with BERNINA

I know many of you are excited about the Dot ‘n Dash quilt along which starts on Friday!! But you know what? I love quilt alongs so much I’m starting another one a few weeks later!! My Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along will be hosted over on the BERNINA We All Sew Blog and it will run in a similar format: 6 weeks of start to finish tutorials to make an entire quilt!

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along

Click here to grab a quilt kit to make this quilt using Fandangle fabric.

I’m using my Fandangle fabric to make my version of the quilt shown above, and I’m offering a limited number quilt kits over at shop.christaquilts.com if you want to make one just like it.

All you need to make this quilt are a jelly roll (set of precut 2 1/2″ srips) and 4 yards of background fabric. The pattern for this quilt along is a free pattern I created for with Benartex to help promote the fabric line.  Of course it would look fabulous in any fabrics you choose!

Beaded Lanterns by Christa Watson

Click here to get the free PDF pattern to make Beaded Lanterns.

Now I don’t want to stress you out with the idea of two quilt alongs overlapping for a few weeks at the same time. Both will be available indefinitely so you can do them at any time!

The hashtag for this quilt along on instagram is #beadedlanternsqal so be sure to share your progress so I can see how you are doing. When the QAL launches over on the BERNINA blog, you’ll be able to share over there, too, on their community site.

I can’t wait – it’s going to be fun!! And really, my quilt alongs are just an excuse for me to play with my new Fandangle fabric as much as possibile, LOL!!

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along

Click here for full quilt along details on the BERNINA blog – we all sew.

Writing Book 4 – Part 2: Contract Accepted, Work Begins

If you are new to my blog, I’ve begun documenting my progress as I write a book from start to finish. In my last post, I discussed the book proposal process, so be sure to check that out! I’m currently working on my fourth book, and kinda maybe sorta know more about what I’m doing this time around. Just kidding about the “sorta” part, but it’s always a learning process, for sure!!

Christa Watson Books

I’ve written 3 books on my own and have been featured in numerous collaborations with my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork Place, a few of which are shown here.

So here’s what’s happened so far. After I submitted my proposal back in April of this year, I met with my publisher in person in May at Spring Quilt Market 2018 in Portland, OR. I had an in-depth meeting with the acquisitions editor and content editor to nail down the specifics of what the new book will be about (machine quilting – duh!!)

I had originally wanted to go in one direction with the book, but when they pointed out that some of the content I wanted to include was already covered in my first three books, they helped me narrow down my focus and solidify the overall direction for this new book.

Martingale Collaboration Books

Two new Martingale titles that debuted at Spring Quilt Market include Fat Quarter Favorites, featuring my quilt on the cover, and Lunch Hour Patchwork which includes my modern mini.

A couple of months after our meeting at market, Martingale offered me the formal contract in writing, which of course I accepted, and I made myself a time line/to do list of all the steps I’ll need to finish on time.

The first section of the book isn’t due until the next February and the final manuscript, instructions, and samples are due by the end of summer 2019. I’m thrilled because this will give me plenty of time to create the book along with other new and exciting projects I have in the works.

The most wonderful part about working with a publisher is that although I create all of the content, including “placeholder” photos and illustrations, Martingale has a team of professionals who photograph and illustrate everything based on my images. I love it when they take what I create and make it look even more beautiful!

Publishing Agreement for my Next Book

Happy mail! Getting the contract in the mail is always an exciting day!

Book 4 (as I will be calling it until the cover art is finalized) is slated to be 96 pages which is the same length as my most recent book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Of course that can change depending on final editing, and it’s due to be published in September of 2020 (also subject to change). I have a working title for the book, but even that can be tweaked.

As an example, for my first three books, the publisher named the first two while I titled the third. I have a feeling that the title for Book 4 is something we both are in agreement on! (Sorry for all the teases, but I’m giving away only as much as I can at this point.)

I can’t say enough about how excited I am to work on this new book. It’s actually something that many of my students have been asking for, so I love being able to meet their needs. And the best thing about machine quilting is that it’s timeless: the ideas I create now will be just as relevant in two years when the book is available for sale. Even though that seems like a long way off right now, I know that time is going to fly!

Christa at Quilt Market 2015

Doing a demo for my first book at quilt market in 2015

While I can’t discuss the specifics of my contract, I can tell you that royalties are based on the wholesale price of the book, and I will also have the opportunity to purchase them wholesale myself. In fact, most authors who sell their own books make more from direct sales of their books than they do in royalties, so it’s something to keep in mind if you are considering writing a book, or purchasing a book directly from the author.

Now the real work begins. The toughest part for me is balancing out my workdays so that I work on my book a little each week, rather than trying to cram in everything right before the deadline. I’m currently planning in detail everything that needs to be done, and my publisher was fabulous to work with on the timing, since I let them know I wouldn’t really be able to start on it in earnest until after Fall Market later this year.

Machine Quilting Demo

Machine quilting demo to promote my latest fabric and book at Spring Quilt Market 2018. I will be doing lots and lots and lots of quilting over the next few months. I can’t wait!

I have to be honest and say it’s been nice to have a two year break from book writing, since work on my previous book was completed in 2016, a full year before the publish date. But now I feel refreshed, re-energized, and excited to dive into the new work! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress, and will share a few sneak peeks as I can, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you have questions about the book writing process, please ask away in the comments below. If there’s enough interest, I’ll be glad to do a separate blog post devoted to answering your questions about anything I haven’t covered so far. I love sharing what I know and inspiring others to reach their goals, no matter how big or small!

Creative Spaces Blog Hop Week 1 – My Sewing Room

Welcome to Week 1 of the creative spaces blog hop! Scroll to the end for links to everyone who has posted about their spaces this week – I’m sure you’ll love it, be inspired, and hopefully, feel good about your own creative space!

Creative Spaces Week 1

This week, we are blogging about our sewing spaces, and sharing before and after pics.

I like to keep a tidy room, but whenever I travel, things can become a hot mess. I’m usually trying to finish up some deadline at the same time and my sewing space can often look like this:

I have a big space in our upstairs loft area. There’s a big table in the middle where I do most of my computer work, cutting and organizing of projects. It tends to attract all the mess when I’m in a hurry to leave on a big trip.

When my studio is tidy and clean and I’m able to efficiently use every space, it looks more like the image  below (taken a couple of years ago for a feature on someone else’s blog):

Christa's Sewing Room

I’ve got a quilt under the machine on the back wall with another quilt top on two tables in the middle of the room. My design wall on the right is big enough to hang a large quilt top. It now doubles as my basting area and my photography studio.

I can fit a full size ironing board with a big board on top, and there’s a desk where my daughter can also sew if she’s interested. You can barely see the couch peeking behind the railing where I like to drape a couple of quilts in progress.

Photographing Sparkling Stars Quilt

Jason does all of the flat photography for me since that’s definitely not my skill set.
Here he’s photographing Sparkling Stars, my newest quilt pattern featuring Fandangle.

Probably my favorite thing in my sewing room is the design wall because I use it all the time. Whenever I’m working on a new quilt, or even a new fabric line I’ll hang up whatever I’m looking at and step away, to see what it looks like at different angles.

It also servers as my photography studio to take flat shots for pattern covers. We (meaning Jason) build the design wall back in 2013 the last time I did a major studio renovation. You can read about our process here.

Clean Sewing Room

I’m lucky to have a large space with enough room to put everything away when I clean up.

My least favorite thing in my sewing space is the hand-me-down wooden entertainment center. It doesn’t match anything in the room, but it was free and fits the space well. It also holds a ton of stuff, including our big ugly office printers (one for black and white printing & labels – the other for color printing.)

One of my goals during this six week blog hop is to replace that ugly brown monstrosity with something nicer from Ikea. We recently got one in our town, and it’s sad that I haven’t even been there yet! But I’m hoping I can assemble a series of smaller units and bookcases (in white) that will make the space look a whole lot nicer! I’d also like to replace my plastic work table with a taller table on wheels that I can use for cutting.

Christa Quilts

I’m definitely in my happy place when I can quilt in a clean, organized room. My sewing machine is against a wall with a window so that I have lots of natural light steaming through while I quilt during the day. My favorite thing to do is listen to a podcast or audio book while I quilt. It relaxes me and I can get into a good flow while I work.

Other Stops on the Hop

Be sure and visit these other stops on the Creative Spaces Blog hop and see how my quilty friends deal with taming their creative spaces:

Mondays

Tuesdays

Wednesdays

Thursdays

Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

Creative Spaces Blog Hop

 

Modern Marks Fabric Swatches Archive

Modern Marks was my first fabric line that I designed for the Contempo division of Benartex Fabrics. They released in September of 2017, and because Benartex reprints fabrics as long as they are selling, most of them are still available. Although I’m now promoting my second fabric line, Fandangle, (which ships to stores this month), I realized that I need to archive all of the Modern Marks prints in one place so that I can link back to them as needed.

Modern Marks Fabric by Christa Watson

Fat Quarter bundles of Modern Marks are available while supplies last.
Click here for Modern Marks Precuts.
Read my blog post about the fabric design process and fabric rejects.

Modern marks was inspired by many of the marks I like to make – whether by hand or machine. Several of them are based on machine quilting designs and they all incorporate graphic geometry which I love so much! I wanted them to work well when cut up into quilts and add a spark of color to any project.

Modern Marks

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

The main print comes in four colors: Red, Orange, Lime, and Turquoise

The namesake print is mashup of many of the coordinates, and even includes a few motifs which didn’t make the final cut of the collection. I’m definitely revisiting some of the shapes in future fabric lines as my goal is for all of my fabrics to work seamlessly between collections.

Half Ovals

Modern Marks Fabrics Half Ovals Print by Christa Watson

Half Ovals comes in four colors: Dark Fuchsia, Orange, Light Turquoise and Teal

I knew I wanted to include a “dot” print in this line but wanted it to be more interesting than the standard polka dot. I also wanted to make sure that with this coordinate, it would cut up nicely no matter which way you rotated the print.

Herringbone

Modern Marks Fabric Herringbone Print by Christa Watson

Herringbone comes in four colors: Red, Lime, Jade, and Navy

This print is one of the blenders in the line that’s based on one of my machine quilting designs – a simple zig-zag. The beauty of fabric design is that the lines don’t have to be continuous like my machine quilting is!

Boxes

Modern Marks Fabric Boxes Print by Christa Watson

Boxes comes in three colors: Light Blue, Cream/Lime, and Light Orange

Boxes is based on one of my favorite modern machine quilting motifs of the same name. The quilting design is a continuous/allover design, but I wanted the print to not be so obvious that it was a quilting design, so the squares are less dense than the quilting design with just a few of them overlapping. These fabrics also read a little lighter so that they can provide contrast to the darker, bolder prints.

Crossmarks

Modern Marks Fabric Crossmarks Print by Christa Watson

Crossmarks comes in five colors: Pink, Gold, Green, Turquoise and Jade.

This is the simplest print of the bunch but very effective. It serves as the blender, basic, or tone-one-tone of the group.

Quirky Triangles

Modern Marks Fabric Quirky Triangles Print by Christa Watson

Quirky Triangles comes in three colors: Pink/Orange, Green/Blue, and Navy/Blue

I knew I wanted to include a triangle print but something a little more unexpected than the usual tossed triangles. Adding a pop of color emphasizes the asymmetry and irregularity of the print which I really like.

Crosshatch

Modern Marks Fabric Crosshatch Print by Christa Watson

Crosshatch comes in three colors: Tangerine, Light Lime, and Royal

Crosshatch is another basic/blender print. Adding the random pops of filled in squares gives it a little more quirkiness and originality to your basic crosshatch/plaid design.

Modern Marks with Color Weave

The full Modern Marks line includes the 26 prints I designed above, plus 5 coordinating Color Weave basics in Cobalt Blue, Fuchsia, Citrus, Kelly Green, and Electric Blue.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane for my first collection. Click here to see current list of shops that carry my fabric and feel free to email me if you know of a store that carries it that’s not on the list. I’ll be glad to add them!

Save the Date – Next Quilt Along for Dot ‘n Dash Launches in August

Earlier this year in my Facebook group we were discussing the idea of doing another quilt along this summer/fall. Well guess what – after organizing my schedule for the remaining year, I have room to squeeze one in and I’d love for you to join me!

Dot ‘n Dash recolored in Fandangle Fabric

Dot 'n Dash Quilt

Starting on August 17 and each Friday for several weeks (to be determined) we’ll make my Dot-n-Dash quilt pattern from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. The best thing about this quilt along is that many of you already have the book from my previous Squiggles quilt along.

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of the book, you can get a signed one here! The other best thing is that just like my previous quilt alongs, we’ll make the whole quilt from start to finish.

I’ll be re-making my version of Dot-n-Dash using my brand new Fandangle fabric and am offering kits for a limited time. Click here to pre-order your Dot-n-Dash Fandangle kit and I’ll ship it out as soon as the fabric arrives – hopefully by the end of June/early July.

Original Dot ‘n Dash from the Book

Dot 'n' Dash by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Above is the original version made by me as shown in the book. Check out these other fabulous versions that friends of mine have made. I just love seeing the same pattern made in a variety of fabrics!!

Dot ‘n Dash made by Cheryl Brickey

Cheryl Brickey Dot n Dash from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Dot ‘n Dash made by Laura Piland

Laura Dot 'n Dash

Dot ‘n Dash made by Kristin Esser from Modern Marks

Dot n Dash by Kristin Esser

Materials List for Dot ‘n Dash

I’ll be posting the complete schedule on Friday, August 17 but in the meantime, here’s what you need to get started:

  • A copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts
  • One jelly roll (or 40 precut 2 1/2″ strips of assorted prints – includes binding)
  • 3 yards of background fabric (or a light colored jelly roll – all one fabric, or a mix is ok)
  • 4 yards of backing
  • 67″ x 79″ piece batting

Click here to get the optional kit made from Fandangle fabric.

Fandangle Fabric Strips

I can’t wait to dive into these! I cut my own strips using sample yardage, but the Strippies (Jelly Roll Strips) will be precut and neatly packaged by the manufacturer.

Share Your Work in Progress

I’ll be posting weekly stepouts of my progress with the quilt along with some bonus tips as I make the quilt. I’d love for you to share your progress so I can cheer you on, too. You can do that in several ways:

  1. In my Christa Quilts Facebook group
  2. On Instagram #dotndashqal
  3. Leave a comment and include a link to your own blog or social media images

Dot 'n Dash Quilt

I can’t wait to make this quilt and hope that you’ll join me!

Click here to get the optional kit made from Fandangle fabric.

Whether you’re a brand-new quilter or have been creating for a long time, I’d love for you to join me in this journey! Be sure to sign up to receive an email each time a new blog post goes live by entering your email address in the box on the right hand side-bar (or scrolling ALLLLLL the way down to the bottom of the page if viewing this on a mobile device.) I can’t wait to get started!!

Simple Strips Quilt Along Revisited – Make a Quilt from Start to Finish

Last year I hosted a really fun quilt along as part of my BERNINA Ambassador obligations. (It’s a fun gig by the way – I travel the country letting folks know how much I love my machine which is something I did anyway before I became it became “official.”) So today I thought it would be fun to revisit the quilt along for those of you who are new to my blog, or missed it the first time around.

Simple Strips Quilt Along

Links to the Simple Strips Quilt Along

The quilt tutorials are all hosted on the BERNINA blog at We All Sew and they’ll be there indefinitely, so you can make this quilt on your own schedule, any time you want. Just click the hotlinks below to get each set of instructions for this quick and easy quilt!

Week 1 – Materials List and Cutting
Week 2 – Pieced Quilt Top Tutorial
Week 3 – Wall Basting Tutorial
Week 4 – Decorative Stitch Machine Quilting
Week 5 – Machine Binding Tutorial

I made this quilt before I started designing fabric and it works well with any fabrics you choose, whether coordinated or scrappy. Fabric selection is super simple too – it just requires 20 strips (or 1/2 of a jelly roll) of print fabric and the same amount of background/light fabric.

Simple Strips – Modern Marks

Simple strips recolored with Modern Marks

And just for fun, I wanted to see what it would look like recolored in MY fabric – because as a fabric designer, I wish I had time to make ALL the quilts in my prints, LOL!! The recoloring shown above uses a bundle of the Modern Marks prints plus 1 1/2 yards of the cream/lime Boxes print for background and 1/2 yard of the Navy Herringbone for binding.

Here’s what it looks like recolored in Fandangle, my newest fabric collection. I thought it would be fun to separate the warms and cools for a more curated look:

Simple Strips – Fandangle Warm and Cool

Simple Strips in Warm colorway of Fandangle

This coloring can be made from a fat quarter bundle of Fandangle in warm plus 2 yards of Confetti Crosshatch dark gray for the background and binding.

Simple Strips Fandangle Cool

This coloring can be made from a fat quarter bundle of Fandangle in cool plus 2 yards of Confetti Crosshatch light gray for the background and binding.

Although the instructions for Simple Strips are written using precut 2 1/2″ strips, you can totally make your own bundles from your stash, scraps, or even fat quarters.

Do You EQ? (Bonus Download)

Here’s a bonus for those of you who like to work with Electric Quilt software:

Click here to get the Simple Strips EQ download file to resize or recolor this quilt. (It only works if you have the software installed on your computer.) Because I don’t have all the time in the world to make all the quilts, recoloring them virtually gives me the satisfaction of seeing what it would look like “in the cloth!”

Sharing is Caring

Remember, if you make this quilt or any of my designs for that matter, I’d love to see them! You can email me pics to christa@christaquilts.com, include a link to your own blog or social media in the comments, share pics in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group or tag me @christaquilts and #christaquilts on Instagram.

I hope you enjoy making this quilt!!

Christa’s Soap Box – I love Blogging! (with Highlights from our Vacation in Mexico)

I just returned from a fun, but busy two weeks away from home – one week teaching in North Carolina, and the following week on a family vacation to the Riveria Maya in Mexico (near Cancun). I’m interspersing some pictures of our family vacation with my thoughts about blogging so you have something interesting to look at while you read.

Family Vacation in Mexico

Snorkeling at Xcaret, a natural theme park in the jungle of Mexico
We also visited two other eco-parks: Xplore and Xel-ha and they were all amazing!

While I was away on vacation, I had one of those moments of clarity that only happens when I’m away from my machine or relaxing and doing something else. Last year I wrote a post about my need to simplify social media. I followed it up a few weeks later with another post about what it was like a few weeks in. Now that a significant time has passed I realized what channel I enjoy the most – blogging!!

I enjoy being able to go in depth about thoughts I have, and being able to share multiple pictures to tell a more complete story.  I still share in-the-moment experiences and projects on Instagram and Facebook (find me on IG @christaquilts and my FB group ChristaQuilts) but I love being able to think about and express longer-form thoughts here on the blog. In fact what I usually like to do is gather the pictures and snippets I’ve shared on IG or FB over a period of days or weeks, and then turn that into a more complete story here on the blog.

Snorkeling in Mexico

Our family motto is work hard – play hard! We work a LOT so we can enjoy fun family vacations on a flexible schedule. Near the end of our trip it got very rainy and windy but that didn’t stop us from having a great time! The waters are warm and the views are spectacular!

When it comes to my thoughts on blogging, I’ve resisted the urge to follow the standard monetization model: churning out daily content to increase page views and qualify for google add revenue. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that model and plenty of bloggers earn a successful income doing that. (It’s also one of the reasons there’s so much free content out there – to attract more viewers and clicks.)

For me, the blog is more of a way for to document my quilting life (and occasional personal life) in real time. Of course I’ll still blog about new product announcements, workshops I’m teaching and quilting events I’m attending because after all, quilting is my full-time job and marketing is a huge part of that. But my favorite posts to write are process posts, sharing tips and techniques along the way while I’m creating. I also enjoy penning the occasional thought-provoking soapbox post, too!

Jason hamming it up in the Sea Turtle exhibit

My husband Jason, hamming it up at the Sea Turtle Exhibit

You’ll also notice I don’t do as many giveaways either. Although they are always fun and generate lots of traffic, it’s really too much to keep up with the flood of comments. I much prefer the thoughtful interactions we can have when you all leave comments or email me directly on a post of substance. I do try to respond to each comment personally (which you won’t always see in the comments section unless it’s something that everyone else needs to read, too).

Because I’m one of those people who tends to think out loud, blogging also helps me process things and get them out of my system. So it really IS true that quilting, or even writing about quilting is great therapy!! Since I recommitted to the blog at the end of last year, I’ve found that it’s easier to do consistently the more often I try.

Baby Sea Turtle

I fell in love with Sea Turtles on our vacation – the babies (above) have the most beautiful patterns on their shell! I’d never seen a full grown one (below) in real life until now – they get huge!!

Big Sea Turtle

It’s hard to tell the scale of this turtle but this one is at least 10x bigger than the baby. There was an even larger one but I missed getting a pic – trust me – they are huge!!!

When writing my blog, it takes me a long time to finalize each post, adding links and images where necessary and double, triple, quadruple checking for typos each time! But I heard once that if you “create before you consume” you feel a whole lot more productive. That seems to work for me as I usually try to start a blog post in the morning as part of my routine before I get into the flow of my workday.

It usually takes me a couple of days to knock out a blog post – so once I quit worrying about trying to blog daily and settled on 2-3 posts per week, I felt that’s something I can easily manage. That means if you see a week where I’ve only managed to write once, you’ll know there’s something big happening behind the scenes, or I’m just way behind on my work, LOL!!

Running in the Jungle

I did manage to get in a bit of exercise while on vacation. Our resort had lots of winding pathways that were perfect for jogging through the lush jungle. We saw all kinds of critters, too: iguanas, monkeys, coati and even racoons!! But alas, they were all too fast for my camara!

I try to keep a running list of topics I want to write about and will keep an editorial calendar so that I can be thinking about what I want to convey before I sit down to write. By keeping a running list, I can also pick and choose what I feel like writing at any given time. For example, I’m writing this one just as I returned from vacation, but wrote two more “evergreen” posts ahead of time while I was on vacation. They were faster and easier to crank out in in small snippets of time. Because I’ll have lots of catch up sewing to do when I get back, knowing I have a couple of posts in the queue waiting to go lets me relax and start writing more without feeling like it has to be done RIGHT NOW!!

Blogging is actually very similar to how I design and quit: I’ll think about something for awhile, block out time to work on a project, and then settle in for the actual work time without distractions. Also, when I’m not trying to cram something in last minute – either blogging or quilting – I can be more relaxed about it and enjoy the process more.

ziplining

Another thrilling part of our adventure was zip-lining through the jungle – most times it ended in water which was refreshing after a fun, heart-thumping ride!

Every now and then I hear about people lamenting the downfall of blogging and others questioning whether or not blogging is still relevant when there are so many other choices. Just like with anything else in life, writing a blog or even reading a blog isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok, too!

Ironically what I’ve found is that be because fewer people are blogging these days it actually allows my blog to be seen more, unlike the “blogging boom” of a few years ago when everyone was doing it. Because there’s not such a drive for me to monetize the blog – or stress about whether my “SEO” is “MIA” –  I can can focus more on being a quilter who blogs, not a blogger who quilts.

Hammock Time!

Proof that we’re not working ALL THE TIME though sometimes it might seem like it!

And with that said, now it’s time for me to unpack, do some laundry, and start thinking about the next quilt. It was a fabulous vacation, but now I’m excited to be home and I’m ready to get back to my sewing machine!!

What Really Happens at Quilt Market: My Experience at Spring 2018 in Portland, Oregon

Quilt Market wrapped up a couple weeks ago but I finally feel settled enough to blog a little bit more about my experience as I debuted my second fabric line and my latest batch of quilt patterns.

(Click here for my latest post all about the newest quilts and patterns.)

Christa Watson Contempo booth Quilt Market 2018

My booth was next to Cherry Guidry,another Benartex Contempo designer – she introduced a beautiful collection of neutrals called “Words to Live By.” A friend made four skirts from me from my fabric and I paired them up with a fun pair of shoes each day!

Here’s a shot of the full booth where you can see all five quilts that were on display. Sparkling Stars took center stage and got quite a lot of attention. You can see the cool version of Surplus Strips on the ladder with Heather Black’s gorgeous Pearl Pendants quilt.

Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex

The warm version of Surplus Strips (on the right above, near the Contempo sign) did double duty: it added color to the side of the booth, and also covered up a functional bookcase full of fabric samples for the sales associates.

The table was decorated with Sylvia Schaefer’s fabulous Pinwheel Rings quilt, and it served as an overflow sales station for those sales reps who “worked the floor” rather than staying in the Benartex area the whole time. Although I mostly took pictures when no one was around, just imagine people milling through the booths entire time, talking shop, placing orders and oohing and ahhing over all the beautiful new things.

Bags by Annie Unrein made from Fandangle

By Annie bags and containers were scattered throughout the booth showcasing her latest patterns and adding a colorful touch while being very functional for me. I used them to hold business cards, pattern giveaways and hidden items like snacks and my phone – stuff I need easy access to but don’t want to have sticking out in public!

Annie and I have a great deal going – I send her sample of my newest fabrics, and she makes up a bunch of samples showcasing her new patterns and my new fabric. I get to use them in my booth when they debut at market and then she takes them when she travels, and sets up for trunk shows. My mom has even spotted things made from my previous line, Modern Marks in some of her newer videos so it’s fun to see them “out in the wild!”

What Really Happens at Quilt Market

2 Days Before Show Time

So now that you’ve seen my booth, I’ll give you a play by play of my experiences each day. Two days before the show opens is booth setup. Fortunately the amazing folks at Benartex have a team that designs, builds and decorates the booths. The pics below are during setup: crates are shipped in, flooring is laid down, curtains are hung on poles and furniture is arranged.

For two days, the show floor looks like a disaster zone in everyone’s booth and then it all comes together magically at the last minute! That’s my hubby Jason in the shot below looking on and being so grateful he doesn’t have to build my booth!!

Quilt Market Booth Setup

1 Day Before Show Time

Below – I’m wearing my first day outfit – a skirt made from the red colorway of Baubles and bits. I stopped by to check up on booth setup and they were pretty much done with everyone but my corner.  My quilts were the last to be hung because I had to share them at a few pre-opening marketing events first.

Christa with Fandangle outfit

The day started off with a breakfast meeting with the Benartex sales reps. The designers attending were able to show our quilts and tell the reps a little bit more about the inspiration behind the designs as well as talk about the patterns we created to help support the line. They have much of this information already in their sales books that they show to shop owners, but getting to present to them in person allows them to get to know us better and tailor their visits to quilt shops to better meet their needs.

Many of the sales team represent several different fabric companies, so it’s a lot of information for them to take in and remember. Although shops can stop by any booth they like and place orders at quilt market, most buying and selling happens through fabric company sales reps, so anything we fabric designers can do to help our collections stand out will give us a better chance of quilt shops purchasing them for their shops.

Showing Fandangle to Benartex Sales Reps

After meeting with the sales team, it was time to prepare for schoolhouse. This is a set of 15-30 minute education sessions aimed at helping shop owners understand the benefits of carrying our products in their shops. My session was teaching how to host a quilt along to help shops sell more patterns and fabric. Of course the hope is that they’ll decide to carry my things, but I make sure my tips will work for anything they choose to carry in their shops.

Schoolhouse Schedule

I was a little nervous that no one would show up for my session since it was the second to last one of the day. By this time, everyone’s been on their feet all day and it can start to be a little tiring. Plus there are about 15-20 sessions happening during the same timeslot, so attendees really have to pick and choose which ones they want to see.

Fortunately every seat filled up and it was standing room only. Everyone who attended got a little goody bag with a free pattern to entice them to carry my fabric. I won’t know how the first round of sales for Fandangle went until I get my first royalty report after the fabric ships, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a good number of shops decide to carry it!

Quilt Market Schoolhouse

Show Time!

The show floor of quilt market is open for 3 days so it can be a bit of a blur! That sounds like a lot of time but it goes by very quickly, especially when it’s spent talking about fabric non-stop! But because quilt market is also a very social event, its great when some industry legends stop by to chat, too. Below I was able to catch up with Luana Rubin, the amazingly talented owner of eQuilter.com. We first got acquainted at a BERNINA ambassador reunion and I love following her work and travels on instagram.

Luana Rubin of EQuilter

In this photo I wore a skirt made from the cool colorway of Sparkling Squares.

During this whirlwind time of hanging out in the booth and talking to folks as they stopped by, I had a few meetings (more about that later…) and several machine quilting demos. During my demos I explained how several of my designs from Fandangle were actually inspired by some of my favorite machine quilting designs in my latest book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts. And here’s a hint to file away for now – although swirls didn’t make the cut for Fandangle, they’ll definitely make an appearance in the future…. so stay tuned!!

Machine Quilting Demo

It’s always great to meet up with fellow designers and see what they are working on, too. On the last day of the show, Aurifil organized a group picture for some of the designers who were attending that also have Aurifil thread collections. I’ve been chatting with Aurifil about my next thread collection and I’m really excited about what we’ve come up with so far. If all goes well, I’ll be debuting that one at fall market so there’s always fun stuff happening behind the scenes!!

Aurifil Thread Designers

Just a few of the Aurifil thread curators – Aurifil got a ribbon for best notions booth!!
On the last day of market I wore my Baubles and Bits skirt in the teal colorway.
It was fun to wear my fabric each day!

I’ll end this post with some pretty shots of my fellow Contempo designers’ booths that were in the same quad area. It was fun to see their pretty quilts hanging up all weekend and getting to know some of them better! In order below they are Cherry Guidry of Cherry Blossom Studio, Amanda Murphy, Amy Friend of During Quiet Time and Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio.

The next big industry event I’ll be attending is BERNINA University in Chicago at the end of June. It’s like a mini-version of quilt market but exclusively for BERNINA dealers. I’m excited to meet many of the shop owners who didn’t attend quilt market, and I’m looking forward to teaching some hands on BERNINA classes while I’m there. I can’t wait!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 1 – The Design and Sewing the Blocks

Now that I’m back home from quilt market, I have time to share about the process of making Sparkling Stars, one of the quilts from Fandangle, my new fabric line from Benartex/Contempo.

Sparkling Stars Design

Whenever I make an original quilt, I first create it in Electric Quilt Software using the actual fabric swatches I plan to use. If it’s a scrappy-looking quilt, I won’t worry too much about color placement while I design. However, for Sparkling Stars, I took quite a while re-arranging the colors until I was pleased with how they looked.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars PDF Quilt Pattern.
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Print Quilt Pattern.

I knew I wanted to use all 20 fabrics from Fandangle, but in a cohesive way. So I literally tried every fabric in the line in each part of the star blocks above until I was pleased with the final color arrangement. (I usually don’t save the “reject” versions because they are numerous and I don’t want to get confused by multiple images of the same file I’m working on.)

Fandangle Cut Units for Sparkling Stars

I love a pretty stack of cut units!

I planned the design months before I received fabric samples so that I could get the pattern written ahead of time. I knew time would be short in making the quilt so I tried to get as much work done ahead of time as I could. Once I start on a quilt, I’ll make it pretty quickly from start to finish since I’m usually working on a deadline.

Sparkling Stars HST's

Stacks and Stacks of HST’s in progress…

Making the Blocks

I try to assembly line my process, so I’ll cut everything ahead of time, then sew all the sub-units at once rather than constructing a quilt block by block. It’s much more efficient and I can pattern test as I go by doing it this way.

Sparkling Stars in Progress

I keep similar units together to stay organized.

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces that go into making this quilt so I try to be as careful as I can during every step of the process. I sew with a consistent quarter inch seam, press my seams open, and trim my units as needed to the correct size. By taking care during each step of the process, it ensures the final blocks will go together smoothly.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

Sparkling Star Quilt Blocks in Progress

When the sub-units are complete, I stack them up and lay them out in order next to my sewing machine so that I can chain piece as much as possible. I also take pictures as I go so I can look at a reduced view of the quilt blocks to make sure nothing is turned the wrong way before sewing together.

For these particular blocks, I made sure turn turn the “Beaded Curtain” print so that they were all facing the same direction. The rest of the prints are non-directional so they didn’t matter.

Seams Pressed Open

I sew with a shorter stitch length and press seams open as I go for best results.
Then I’ll pin the units together as I sew to get accurate seam joins.

Rather then sewing the blocks into rows, I sewed them into 4-patch units so they’d be easier to manage. It also allows makes me feel like I’m getting more done since it’s a lot of pieces to sew! The biggest tip is to just sew one step of ALL the blocks at a time and then take a break so it doesn’t get too monotonous.

Sparkling Stars Blocks in Orange

These blocks will sparkle and glow in the final quilt!

When the blocks are complete, I’ll press them with a hot, dry iron on both front and back. This ensures nice flat blocks which will be much easier to machine quilt!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

There are a total of 25 blocks in 6 different fabric combinations.

I wrote up the quilt pattern so that it would be extremely easy to follow along either using the same fabrics I did, or using similar colors to get the sparkling effect. Fandangle will start shipping to stores at the end of June, but you can pre-order bundles of the prints and yardage of the grays (along with the quilt pattern) over at shop.christaquilts.com for a limited time.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

While I’m not offering kits, you can get the enough fabric to make this quilt when you purchase 1/2 yard bundles of both the cool and warm colorways; plus 3 yards of the light gray, and 2 yards of the dark gray. There will be a little left over that you can use for other projects.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I show how I put the quilt top together!